Making Friends: Social Attraction in Larval Green and Golden Bell Frogs, Litoria aurea

Leu, Stephan T.; Whiting, Martin J.; Mahony, Michael J.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Socio-ecological models combine environmental and social factors to explain the formation of animal groups. In anurans, tadpole aggregations have been reported in numerous species, but the factors driving this behaviour remain unclear. We conducted controlled choice experiments in the lab to determine whether green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) tadpoles are directly attracted to conspecifics (social factors) in the absence of environmental cues. Using repeated measures, we found that individual tadpoles strongly preferred associating with conspecifics compared to being alone. Furthermore, this preference was body size dependent, and associating tadpoles were significantly smaller than non-associating tadpoles. We suggest that small tadpoles are more vulnerable to predation and therefore more likely to form aggregations as an anti-predator behaviour. We demonstrate that tadpoles present an ideal model system for investigating how social and ecological factors influence group formation in vertebrates.


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